Auchentoshan: a Jekyll & Hyde story


With the benefit of hindsight that’s probably a bit of a harsh article title, considering neither of these whiskies were murderously violent nor devilishly deceptive. However when I first looked at the liquid contained within the beautifully wrapped samples I received, that was the first thing which came to mind. Well that, and an article title of ‘Auchentoshan: Chalk and Cheese’ didn’t sound as if it’d be too appealing to you, the reader. One bottle was filled with an angelically light gold coloured liquid, the other with a rich, dark syrupy liquid. The two really couldn’t have looked much different or, as I soon found out, tasted much different.

The first of the two whiskies I tasted was the new Valinch which is matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks. Limited to 2,000 cases, this souped-up cask strength version of the Auchentoshan Classic is named after the metal pipette used to draw samples straight from the cask. I then moved on to the 1979 Vintage which is limited to just 1,000 bottles. This dark, marauding liquid has spent over 32 years in first fill Oloroso sherry butts before being bottled at cask strength. Morrison Bowmore Master Blender Rachel Barrie promises that “this carefully crafted malt is one of the most intensely fruity Auchentoshans ever to be released. A cornucopia of rich dark fruits and deep spices, this beguiling expression is beautifully dry.” Let’s see if I agree.

Auchentoshan Valinch 2012
First fill ex-bourbon casks
Limited to 2,000 cases
57.2% ABV
£36.94 from here

Nose: Creamy vanilla, coconut and Victoria sponge cake to begin then green apples and a dash of fresh oak.

Palate: Peaches, white candy sticks and lemon bon bons. Then a slight pear skin bitterness for balance and a touch of chilli heat.

Finish: Lots of vanilla and light toffee fudge are balanced by some fresh woody notes.

Auchentoshan 1979
First fill Oloroso sherry butts
Limited to 1,000 bottles
50.5% ABV
£321.75 from here

Nose: I’m overwhelmed. Rich honey, treacle toffee, sultana cake, plums, cocoa powder, demerara sugar and polished wood all hit my nose one after another. I could nose this for weeks.

Palate: Very rich and smooth with berries – blueberry pie, raspberries and blackberries. Then figs in syrup, manuka honey and chocolate covered Brazil nuts.

Finish: Long, fruity and sweet with some dry oak.

Overall: Two very different Auchentoshans, and two whiskies to have either side of a nice meal. The Valinch is a perfect aperitif dram and the 1979 is something to go with or after dessert. The Valinch is slightly on the light side for my tastebuds but still a winner. However the star of the show today is definitely the 1979 vintage – the nose on this whisky in particular is stupendous.



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